EHR Incentive Program Registration Starts Today

January 3, 2011

Starting today, physicians can register online to participate in the federal incentive program for adopting electronic health records (EHRs). Physicians can receive up to $44,000 over five years under Medicare, and up to $63,750 over six years under Medicaid.

Beginning Jan. 3, physicians can register online to participate in the federal incentive program for adopting electronic health records (EHRs). Qualifying physicians can receive up to $44,000 over five years under Medicare, and up to $63,750 over six years under Medicaid.

In order to qualify for the federal incentives, doctors must adopt certified EHR technology and demonstrate that the system is being used in a meaningful way. The incentive program was authorized under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act to physicians and hospitals when they use EHRs to improve the delivery of healthcare. The incentive program is administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

To qualify for the incentive programs, physicians must use certified EHR technology. To find out whether your EHR technology qualifies, click here. Physicians must also demonstrate “meaningful use,” which can include such things as:

• Demonstrating that more than 50% of patients 2 years of age or older have height, weight and blood pressure data recorded.

• Demonstrating that more than 50% of patients 13 years or older have smoking status data recorded.

• Demonstrating that more than 40% of prescriptions are transmitted electronically using EHR.

• Demonstrating that more than 50% of patients received an electronic copy of their health records within three business days from the date they were requested.

For a summary of meaningful use objectives, click here.

Physicians can apply for the incentive program under Medicaid or Medicare, but not both. Clinicians that choose to sign up under the Medicaid program also must register with their state Medicaid website, though not all state agencies were expected to be up and ready to receive registration applications on Jan. 3.

Once physicians have registered for the program, they must be able to document to CMS that they have met meaningful-use requirements over a 90-day period. The CMS said it expects to begin mailing out the first EHR Medicare incentive checks in May.

To learn more about the EHR incentive program, and to begin the registration process, click here.